The fourth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards were held last night, celebrating commercialisation success within New Zealand’s universities and Crown Research Institutes.
Twelve innovative projects competed for the top awards. Awards judge and KiwiNet investment committee member Dr Andrew Kelly says there was a high standard of entries this year. “It was notable that more sophisticated commercialisation processes are being used. The sheer level of entrepreneurial talent was also impressive.”
The Norman F.B Barry Foundation Emerging Innovator Award was jointly present to University of Canterbury’s Dr Daniel Holland, and University of Otago and the MacDiarmid Institute’s Dr Carla Meledandri.
Holland was recognised for his work using maths and measurements for economic benefit, while Meledandri was awarded the price of her work using silver nanoparticles to treat and prevent dental disease.
Judges said there had to be two winners of this category because they were both standouts.
“We were very impressed with Daniel’s ability to connect with industry leading to actual contracts and solutions,” the judges’ comments say.
“With Carla we were impressed with her entrepreneurial, wide ranging thinking across how to apply nano-technology with some direct commercial applications.”
The Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award was presented to Associate Professor Cather Simpson, from the University of Auckland and the MacDiarmid Institute, for designing lasers to sort sperm for livestock. The lasers enable the industry to breed more selectively.
Simpson was also awarded the BNZ Supreme Award for overall excellence in all core areas of research and commercialisation.
“With proven success for many years in multiple sectors, Cather continues to lead scientists and engineers to innovate.
“She inspires the next generation of scientists with her entrepreneurial competence and enthusiasm.”
The MiniterEllisonRuddWatts Research and Business Partnership Award was given to Scion and Soane’s Woodforce – a wood fire-reinforced plastic.
The PwC Commerical Deal Award went to AgResearch ZeaKal, for the work pulling together national and international funders to help NZ plant biotechnology gain traction.
Scion and Sonae's Woodforce
KiwiNet general manager Dr Bram Smiths says science that starts on the fringe can end up creating immense commercial value for the economy.
“Whether it’s using gaming technology to find oil, using lasers to increase productivity in the dairy industry, of fungi instead of fungicides to help plants grow, the opportunities are as diverse as they are exciting.”
The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a consortium of 16 universities, Crown Research Institutes and a Crown Entity established to boost commercial outcomes from publically funded research.